The latest religious minority to be caught in the Syrian crossfire are the Druze, who have long enjoyed the protection of the Assad regime, but now find themselves under attack from the terror group Al Nusra Front and could soon look to Israel for help. Al-Nusra commander accused the Druze of being “kuffar” (infidels) before ordering the killings.
FOX News The slaughter Wednesday of more than 20 Druze, included several elderly people and a child. The attack on Syria’s Druze community, a monotheistic religion that incorporates elements including philosophy, Judaisim, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism, could signal a coming humanitarian crisis, according to officials in Israel, which has a sizeable Druze population of its own.
With embattled President Bashar al-Assad pulling forces back to defend Damascus, the nation’s estimated 700,000 Druze have no protection should the terrorist groups fighting to take over the nation turn their attention to them, as they have Christians and Kurds.
“We do not plan to sit idly by while our brothers are being slaughtered in Syria.” – Ayoob Kara, Israeli official and Druze
Wednesday’s attack on Druze in Qalb Lawzi, in the northern province of Idlib, came after a Tunisian leader of Al Nusra seized the home of a Syrian Druze soldier loyal to Assad, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. A crowd gathered and the Al Nusra leader was killed under circumstances that remain unclear.
“Reinforcements [took over] the village,” the Observatory reported. “After that, Al-Nusra opened fire on the civilians, leading to the death of 20 people.” Some reports now suggest up to 24 were killed, including a young girl and several elderly villagers.
Israel, whose Druze community is generally highly-regarded, has so far stayed out of the Syrian war. But recent events have prompted speculation that Israel could move to aid Syria’s Druze population considering the faith’s status in the Jewish State.
“We are the only non-Jewish minority that is drafted into the military, and we have an even higher percentage in the combat units and as officers than the Jewish members themselves,” Israeli Druze poet Reda Mansour, currently Israel’s ambassador to Brazil, said in 2008. “So we are considered a very nationalistic, patriotic community.”
It was a Druze police officer, Zidan Saif, who fought and died trying to save the lives of four rabbis who were killed in a Jerusalem synagogue last November by a Palestinian gunman.
The Druze religion originally stemmed from Islam but is seen as heresy by most Muslims. Any intervention by Israel, either by sending arms to Syria’s Druze to defend themselves or by opening the border to grant then sanctuary, could draw Israel into the ever-widening regional crisis.
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